Family Connections: Mental Health Consultation and Professional Staff Development

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What is Family Connections?

Family Connections is an evidence-based, system-wide model for mental health consultation and professional development in early education and care, Head Start and Early Head Start, home visiting, and other programs serving young children and their families. This model:

  • Builds professional capacity
  • Promotes mental health and social-emotional wellness in young children, their families, and providers
  • Deepens professionals’ understanding of families facing depression and other adversities, trauma and trauma-informed care, and resiliency and healing

Family Connections was developed with the support of an Innovation and Improvement Project grant to Boston Children’s Hospital from the Office of Head Start, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Family Connections project was initially launched in 2003 as an initiative to support early childhood programs in their mental health outreach to families facing adversities, particularly parental depression.  

The model has evolved into a systemic, preventive approach of embedded infant and early childhood mental health consultation and staff development. This model may work directly at a community level, programmatic level, classroom level, and/or with an individual child and family.  

Who is Family Connections for?

  • Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultants (IECMHC)
  • Mental health clinicians
  • Child care professionals
  • Early childhood educators
  • Home visitors
  • Family advocates
  • Program directors, supervisors, and managers
  • Others working with young children and their families

Family Connections Institute

The Brazelton Touchpoints Center (BTC) offers a two-day training institute for mental health clinicians, program directors and managers, educational and family service worker supervisors, home visitors, and others working with young children and their families who want to deepen their understanding of mental health and implement Family Connections in their setting.

Previous Family Connections Institute participants include:

  • Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education, First 5 Alabama
  • Bodéwadmi LAUNCH Consortium (Gun Lake, Nottawaseppi Huron, and Pokagon Bands of Potawatomi) (IN, MI)
  • Childhood Fellowship Program, Nathanson Family Resilience  Center, UCLA (CA)
  • Family Service of Eastern Nova Scotia (Canada)
  • Passamaquoddy Tribe (ME)
  • Prairie Band Potawatomi Tribe (KS)
  • Pueblo of Laguna (NM)
  • Santo Domingo Early Childhood Learning Center, Kewa Pueblo (NM)
  • Sitting Bull College and the American Indian College Fund (ND, SD)
  • United Way Bright Beginnings (Houston, TX)

What do participants learn?

  • A framework to enhance their mental health consultation services to young children, their families, and early childhood professionals
  • How to support further professional development regarding social-emotional development and mental health
  • Strategies to deepen professionals’ understanding of families facing depression and other adversities
  • An understanding of trauma, trauma-informed care, resilience and healing
  • The importance of self-reflection, perspective-taking, and self-care for providers and families

How do participants learn?

  • Two days of interactive, learner-centered training led by BTC Staff Trainers and National Facilitators
  • Role playing, group work, didactic presentations, videos
  • A small class size that enhances learning outcomes
  • In-person or virtual online learning

What are people saying about the Family Connections Institute?

“This training was very informative especially on what mental health means, and how it impacts families and communities. I now have a more thorough understanding, more clarity on what to listen for when I visit with families.” — Early childhood home visitor

“Entering the classrooms with the children and teachers has been a joy. But, I have been wondering about direction and methods to be effective with mental health consultations. Thank you for providing exactly those.” — Early childhood mental health consultant

“You have brought me hope, tools, and refreshed my enthusiasm to cope with/help in the area where I get most questions: But what do I do when there are real mental health issues? This has been powerful for me and I can’t wait to share it with others as I know it will help them in the difficult challenges that they face on a daily basis.” — Early intervention service coordinator

Interested in learning more about Family Connections or attending a Family Connections Institute? Contact us today for more information!

Family Connections is an evidence-based, system-wide model for mental health consultation and professional development in early education and care, Head Start and Early Head Start, home visiting, and other programs serving young children and their families.

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Learn With Us

Babies and children, families and communities do the research on what it takes for them to flourish. Listen with us to what they’ve been learning. Watch a webinar. Check out the Indigenous Early Learning Collaborative. Join the Brazelton Touchpoints Center Learning Network. Join the conversation.

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